Right now, military families are playing a terrible game of “hurry up and wait.” In an ordinary year, this would be the peak of PCS season. Military kids would be celebrating their final weeks at one school before transferring to another one over the summer. Families would be planning summer “vacations” to visit their relatives and do sight seeing during cross-country PCS moves. But of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is no ordinary year.

Instead of moving, thousands of families are on hold. Some have already had their household goods packed up and are stuck in a hotel or temporary housing situation. Others are facing the burden of two mortgage or rent payments overlapping until they have permission to move. And plenty more families are dealing with the stress of uncertainty, cancelled vacations, and lack of family support.

These are challenging times. But no one needs to sit at home in a ball of anxiety during this time of social distancing. It’s not good for you, and it isn’t healthy for your other family members either. So today, take a few minutes to destress and have a little fun. Try to face this as any other “mandatory fun day” arranged by your military unit. No, it won’t be truly fun, but at least it’s a break from the normal and there may be a few laughs, so you can get through it. Help your family relieve stress and have fun during this time at home with these creative ideas from PCSgrades.

Get outside: This is so important. Not only do you need a change of scenery from your couch, but the Vitamin D from sunlight can help improve your mood and fight depression. Just a few minutes outside and a walk around the block can go a long way towards making isolation easier to bear. If you have kids, they need a chance to run and play and stretch their legs. So make it a family event with bike rides, roller blades, the wagon, or the stroller. Hey, at least their whining and complaining won’t sound as loud when you are outside!

Dance it out: Moving is good for the body and the soul. It can be silly, formal, or part of a dance fitness routine. Whatever style suits you, crank up some tunes and have a family dance session in the living room or the garage. If you’re feeling brave, post your moves on Tic Tok and try out some new challenges together. Need some inspiration? Check out the #moveformilkids challenge started by PCSgrades to honor the Month of the Military Child.

Pretend it’s a staycation: We get it, you’ve all been cooped up for a few weeks now. Every day feels like Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray… or a furry groundhog. Try to shake things up by taking the family on a mock staycation. Were you planning a trip to the beach? Put on bathing suits and set up a little pool in the yard. Or run through the sprinklers. Or have a family water gun fight. Let the whole family brainstorm different activities for each day of this “mandatory fun time.”

Get some quiet time: No matter how many square feet are in your living space, the chances are that you’re feeling a bit cramped and on top of each other right now. Whether you’re trying to work from home, or you want an escape from your kids’ endless schoolwork sessions, you need to carve out a space where you can get a mental break. If your floor plan permits, find a place where you can shut the door. Otherwise, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones. Carve out a time of day when you can look forward to a peaceful break: it could be mid-afternoon, or just before bed. Tell your spouse or family members that you don’t want to be interrupted during that time. Make sure your spouse gets their own quiet time too. Take turns on household chores or tag-team kid duties so you each get a break.

Cook something new: Isolation is a great time to try out new recipes. If your last trip to the Commissary was a little eclectic, host a family version of the Chopped cooking show, where everyone has to make a dish with a basket of mystery ingredients. If you’re in the mood for fake international travel (without the long plane rides), then plan a themed night with a dinner menu and music from another culture. Get the whole family involved with cooking, decorating, and even dressing up. If you’re stumped, go with tacos and margaritas for Cinco de Mayo.

Isolation and social distancing can be stressful, but military families don’t have to live in anxiety during these uncertain times. Make your home a safe and comfortable space, and use these strategies to de-stress with your family. And when you finally get permission to carry out PCS orders, these are great ways to de-stress during your move too! Visit PCSgrades.com to get resources to help during a PCS move, including trusted reviews written by and for military families. 

This article is sponsored by PCSgrades.